The Walk is an amazing high-Wire Cinematic Event
On August 7, 1974, French high-wire performance artist Philippe Petit did the unthinkable. He — along with the help of a group of several intrepid international recruits slung a wire a quarter of a mile above the Earth and then he walked between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. His walk was not sanctioned, and could have very easily resulted in tragedy, but — as it turns out — was quite probably the most amazing high-wire stunt ever pulled. His walk lasted for 45 minutes, during which time he made eight passes along the wire. During his astounding performance he walked, danced, lay down on the wire, and knelt to salute the watchers on the ground. There have been 12 people who have walked on the moon, but only one who ever traversed immense void between the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
What Came Before
Petit was born in Nemours, Seine-et-Marne, France. At an early age, he discovered magic and juggling, he also loved to climb, and at 16, he took his first steps on a tightrope wire. Then in June of 1971, he secretly installed a cable between the two towers of Notre Dame de Paris, and on the morning of June 26, 1971, he juggled balls and pranced back and forth as the crowd below applauded.
THE WALK - Official IMAX Trailer
The film itself begins with Petit (Gordon-Levitt) living in Paris and attempting to earn his keep as a street performer with juggling acts and wire walking, much to the chagrin of his father. He soon gets it into his head that it is his manifest destiny to make the walk between the Twin Towers in New York City. So Philippe returns to the circus where he was inspired him to wire walk as a child and practices under the tutelage of Papa Rudy (Kingsley), whom he impresses with his skills. Slowly, Petit gathers around him his troupe of co-conspirators and brings them over to his plan of walking between the towers. As the film progresses, we watch as Petit gains the skills to make his most amazing walk.
The Director's View
Director Robert Zemeckis — who gave us such CGI technical marvels as Forrest Gump, Cast Away, Back to the Future, and Flight once again utilizes cutting-edge technology in the service of an emotional-driven, powerfully-built, character-driven story that will have viewers riveted to the edge of their seats. Accessing innovative and photorealistic techniques as well as IMAX 3D wizardry, (along with top-flight performances from the cast) Zemeckis has delivered a true big-screen cinema adventure that will amazingly allow viewers the opportunity to viscerally experience the feeling of reaching up to and walking among the clouds.
Walking among the clouds
Building His Team
As Petit builds his team and makes his plans to walk between the towers, this is — for all intents and purposes — just another film about a historical event that took place in the not so distant past (FYI, this author of this article dimly recalled hearing of the event at the time it occurred), however, once Petit actually ascends the towers and begins his legendary walk, the event becomes transformed and becomes something that is truly amazing. Zemeckis access all his cinematic wizardry to deliver a truly magnificent cinematic event with this film. (We knew of the event, but until we watched the film, were unaware of how long Petit actually spent on the wire.)
A Helping Hand
Needless to say, the sheer awesomeness of simply being able to view the visual effects of even imagining yourself on a wire slung a quarter mile above the Earth between the Twin Towers is almost too much to bear. Truthfully, even though we all know how the high wire act wound up (Petit is arrested on site when he finally finishes his walk, but and his accomplices are eventually released with the promise that he will give a free high-wire walk in Central Park. Petit determines that he will remain in New York. The building manager also gives Petit a free pass to the observation decks of both towers, on the promise that he’ll never attempt to make the walk again.
Man on Wire
In 2008 a documentary was made about Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century."